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Madagascar in Depth

Madagascar in Depth

From $ 8,165 AUD

Description

Take an in-depth journey into Madagascar and learn what makes this island nation so incredible. Madagascar’s wildlife has developed in isolation for millions of years, and the vast majority is endemic to the island as a result. There are 33 species of lemur and you’ll have an opportunity to meet them as you travel the country visiting remote national parks, pristine beaches, winding rivers and towns and cities with a culture all their own.

Trip Name
Madagascar in Depth
Last Updated
2024-03-02
Days
24
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Wander around 800-year-old trees along the Avenue of the Baobabs.
  • Cross the Big Tsingy via suspended bridge.
  • Float down the meandering Manambolo River on a morning canoe trip.
  • Stay in a cottage deep within the Ranomafana National Park, surrounded by lush rainforest and countless species of flora and fauna.
  • See how many species of lemur you can spot in Isalo, Andasibe and Ranomafana national parks (there are 33 different types!).
  • Chill out at laidback Ifaty – this Malagasy seaside village will provide you with plenty of options to explore, adventure or relax as you wish.

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It's important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, political unrest or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. Your group leader or local representative will keep you up to date with any such changes once your trip is underway. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance fees only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your group leader or local representative know you are interested at the Welcome Meeting and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and group leader or local representative are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Day 1 - Antananarivo
Tonga soa! Bienvenue! Welcome to Antananarivo, Madagascar's crowded but charming capital. Your adventure officially begins with a welcome meeting at 5 pm. If you decide to arrive early, take some time to get acquainted with the city. With cobbled streets, wooden houses and impressive churches, ‘Tana’ has a distinctly romantic air. Perhaps wander the streets of Haute-Ville or visit the permanent Analakely street market. After your welcome meeting this evening, you might like to head out with your new friends for dinner in one of Antananarivo high-quality restaurants.
Day 2 - Antananarivo
Be prepared for a long drive as you begin the journey west this morning. Maybe kick back with a book or get to know your fellow travellers during the 12-hour drive (with stops) to Miandrivazo, a small city that will act as the starting point for your adventure down the Tsiribihina River. On arrival, check in to the hotel and listen to a briefing on essential information for your two-day cruise. Head out to pick any extra supplies you may need or desire for the next few days, then get some rest in preparation for tomorrow.
Day 3 - Tsiribihina River
Rise and shine for the 35-kilometre drive (approx 1.5hrs) to Masiakampy, where you will find a traditional barge waiting to escort you along the Tsiribihina River. These flat bottom boats were once used to transport tobacco, but without that precious cargo they make a comfortable way to cruise along the water and access the remote reaches of western Madagascar. For the next few days, you’ll have the chance to spot wildlife on the banks and in the water, enjoy easy walks to hidden waterfalls and stop off in rural villages. Climb aboard and meet the crew, then settle in and enjoy some lunch as you travel through flat farming plains and enter the dramatic gorges of the Tsiribihina, stopping in the afternoon to trek to a waterfall before returning to a large sandbank to set up camp.
Day 4 - Tsiribihina River
Enjoy a full day gliding along the water today, travelling into the heart of the river and waving to the locals on the banks and barges as you pass. In the absence of roads, nature flourishes along the river in this part of Madagascar – watch out for herds of zebus crossing the river, and flashes of colour as you look for bee-eaters, herons, and egrets in this bird lovers’ paradise. Stop occasionally for a village walk or a short trek for some lemur spotting before setting up camp at a village along the shore. This evening, light a campfire and enjoy some traditional Malagasy music and dancing with the locals.
Day 5 - Bekopaka
Enjoy one last morning along the Tsiribihina river before disembarking the boat and bidding farewell to the crew. Make a quick stop at Belo-sur-Tsiribihina, a small village nestled in the marshes and mangroves of the Delta, to check out the market and grab some lunch before beginning the 4 hour drive to Bekopaka. Arrive, check in to your hotel and settle in for the afternoon. Perhaps enjoy a swim or a refreshing shower and rest your weary limbs. Tomorrow you’ll be taking on the Small Tsingy.
Day 6 - Bekopaka (The Small Tsingy)
Rise early, pick a comfortable outfit and pack some snacks, as today you’ll spend up to five hours trekking through the Small Tsingy, located in Bemaraha National Park. Scramble and navigate through a labyrinth of limestone formations that resemble a forest made of rock. Stop at two lookout points along the way for photo opportunities and a chance to take in the impressive surrounds. In the afternoon, unwind with a float down the Manambolo River on a pirogue (wooden dugout canoe) under the shadow of these towering rock cliffs. Enjoy an easy afternoon cave stroll, taking the sight of stalactites, stalagmites and the eerie tombs of the Vazimba – said to be the earliest inhabitants of Madagascar.
Day 7 - Bekopaka (The Great Tsingy)
Embrace another early start this morning and prepare for another action-packed trip to the Great Tsingy. Getting up early again might be a struggle, but it’s the best way to beat the heat and more intense crowds. Largely unexplored until the 1990s (the name Tsingy is very roughly translated as ‘place where one cannot walk barefoot’ in Malagasy), the area is now easier to navigate due to a series of bridges, semi-permanent climbing plugs and other equipment. Feel your heart stop as you pass over a sheer drop via a suspended bridge, a truly breathtaking experience that those with vertigo may wish to skip. Animal lovers should keep an eye out for 11 species of lemurs, 100 species of birds and 45 endemic reptiles and amphibians, including the Madagascar iguana and Antsingy leaf chameleon.
Day 8 - Morondava
There is another long day of travel ahead (10hr drive plus stops), so grab that book or download a podcast and prepare to keep yourself occupied as you cross the Manambolo River and the Tsiribihina River by ferry, arriving in the laid-back seaside town of Morondava in time for a spectacular sunset in the Avenue of the Baobabs. These cartoonish, towering trees are native to Madagascar, and the variety you’ll see lit from behind this evening are adansonia grandidieri, the tallest of them all. Watch the sky turn pink and yellow and finally cast these trees – many of which are up to 800 years old – in shadow. Spend the night in Morondava and take a well-deserved rest.
Day 9 - Miandrivazo
Take some time this morning to enjoy free time in Morondava. You may choose to relax on the beach or visit the local markets. This afternoon we will make our way to Miandrivazo, approximately 6 hours away.
Day 10 - Antsirabe
Depart this morning for Antsirabe, the capital of the Vakinankaratra region. Along the way, enjoy an easy trek in the countryside and discover the beauty of the local lakes, including the emerald-green waters of Tritiva, an extinct crater surrounded by verdant forest. Hike through the lakes district and sit down for a picnic-style lunch. Antsirabe maintains a Malagasy touch, thanks to the contrast of its bustling street markets and French-inspired facades. Located in the highlands, it's a popular spa town thanks to the hot springs and thermal baths, and the colourful rickshaws known as 'pousse-pousse' are a popular form of transport.
Day 11 - Antananarivo
Welcome back to bustling Antananarivo – a fun place to explore among rolling hills. You might like to check out the Musée de la Photographie, a small museum showcasing the history of Madagascar between 1850 and 1870 through a series of old photographs that have been assembled into short videos. The second part of your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 5 pm, where you'll have the opportunity to meet your new travel companions and, potentially, your new leader. After the meeting, why not head out on an optional dinner with your new group at a local restaurant?
Day 12 - Ifaty
After breakfast this morning and before your flight (if time permits, as flight schedules are subject to change) you’ll enjoy a heritage walking tour of the Old City, where you’ll learn a little more about the country’s history, marvel at the interesting architecture of the traditional highland houses and watch on as finely dressed locals pop in and out of Sunday church services. After exploring Antananarivo, we’ll board a flight to Tulear and onward to your hotel in Ifaty for the evening. The night is yours to sit back and relax or go out and explore the town – you’ll be delighted by your accommodation with a swimming pool, snack bar and restaurant, so you may choose to stay in, rest up and get ready for tomorrow’s adventures.
Day 13 - Ifaty
Today is free for you to explore, adventure or relax as you wish. You might like to visit Reniala Private Park – meaning ‘mother of the forest’. This private nature reserve was opened in 2001 as a botanical garden, ornithological park and incredible baobab forest. Maybe you’d like to visit the Village des Tortues, a turtle breeding and conservation project or drop into the Honko Project and see the protected mangrove area that’s been set up to help reverse the degradation of the ecosystems here. Explore the Recycling Museum, which is dedicated to environmental protection, providing educational awareness for locals and tourists to learn about the efforts of waste management in the country and encouraging green and responsible consumption. Up for something a little more active? Take a traditional dugout (speedboat) out to the nearby reef and snorkel the day away on a guided excursion. As if this wasn’t already enough to choose from, if you’re visiting from July to August, you can also join a humpback whale-watching excursion in the lagoon.
Day 14 - Isalo National Park
Leave Ifaty in the early morning and head to Tulear, where you will enjoy a city tour led by your trip leader. Then, drive to the Antsokay Arboretum for a visit. The Antsokay Arboretum is a botanical garden with over 900 species of plants from southwestern Madagascar, 90% are endemic to the region and 80% are medicinal. Among these, many succulents are considered endangered. You can also see creatures that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world, like chameleons, boas, tenrex and birds, as well as other endemic species. In the afternoon, continue on to Isalo National Park.
Day 15 - Isalo National Park
After breakfast today, you’ll make tracks to Isalo National Park, for a full day of exploration within the park with your leader. Isalo is known for its variety of landscapes, from rainforests and rolling plains teeming with life to strange geological formations and deep-cut canyons. And of course, there are a variety of lemur species roaming around the place because – well, this is Madagascar! You’re lucky to be spending a couple of days exploring the park, which is home to over 80 species of birds, 30 species of reptiles and 14 species of mammals including three lemur species – ring-tailed, red-fronted and Verreaux's sifakas lemur.
Day 16 - Fianarantsoa
Today, you’ll kiss Isalo National Park goodbye as you hit the road for Fianarantsoa – a colourful town known for its heritage site. It is a must-see, with its long, paved roads, labyrinths of small paths and old houses with flower-studded balconies and tiled roofs. Along the way, you’ll stop at the Anja Community Reserve – a great spot to observe lemurs and learn a little more about the local culture. The forest in Anja was designated a protected area reserve by the Government of Madagascar in 1999. The reserve extends over 30 hectares and is enriched with all kinds of flora and fauna species, most notable for its dense population of semi-tame ring-tailed lemurs. Anja has become a vital example of how community management of natural resources can both effectively protect the area and benefit the community. Based on their individual skillsets some locals work as guides, others work as porters while some perform administrative and management tasks associated with the reserve. The local villagers will be your local expert guides as you explore the reserve, and your leader will be able to translate all the knowledge they can pass on to you.
Day 17 - Ranomafana
Today you’ll visit the historical old city of Fianarantsoa on foot. Then, visit a typical Malagasy village for an insight into how most of the island's population live, then take a local walk to explore the surrounding countryside, which is dotted with rice paddies and vineyards that produce Fianarantsoa's famous wine. You'll get a chance to sample local cuisine with a lunch stop in the villages. In the afternoon, you’ll travel to Ranomafana National Park, located in the southeastern part of Madagascar. Ranomafana means 'hot water' in the Malagasy language and the area is haven for small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects, as well as palms, bamboo, orchids and carnivorous plants. This park is home to several rare species with 13 species of lemur, including the famous golden bamboo lemur, which was first reported in the area in 1985 – its presence is one of the main reasons why the government decided to protect this forest. You may want to consider taking an optional night walk once the sun goes down. Your accommodation tonight is a small cottage located within the park's boundaries. With a little free time, you might consider visiting the thermal springs which the town is named after – located across the Namorona River. The outdoor swimming pool fed by the springs is also a popular spot to take a dip.
Day 18 - Ranomafana
Today, you’ll get another chance to continue exploring Ranomafana, this time on a guided walk. Keep your eyes peeled for lemurs, striped civets, mongooses, goshawks, geckos, frogs and butterflies. If you’re lucky, you may even spot an incredible net-casting spider or the world's smallest chameleon. Relax into the day, and once again spend the night within the park.
Day 19 - Ambositra
After breakfast, head to Valbio Research and Conservation centre, an international research station on the edge of Madagascar's beautiful and abundant Ranomafana National Park. Under the direction of renowned primatologist Patricia C. Wright, the centre works to protect Madagascar’s unique and biologically diverse ecosystems through conservation projects that directly benefit local communities. You’ll get a chance to tour the centre with a researcher and sit down for an informal session to learn about the work they do. After lunch make the journey to Ambositra, home to the third-largest ethnic group in Madagascar – the Betsileo people. Ambositra is known as the arts, craft and wood carving capital of Madagascar. You’ll get the opportunity to stop by a workshop and learn more about this local art.
Day 20 - Antsirabe
This morning you'll visit the nearby Sandrandahy villages and explore the process of silk production, which is an important part of Malagasy culture. When a Malagasy is buried, their body is wrapped in a large, silk sheet known as a 'lambamena' and, after a few years, the family traditionally return to the tomb to exchange the sheet for a new one. This custom is known as famadihana, and each village specialises in one step of the production. You’ll be lucky enough to visit the Firaisankina silk weavers cooperative – whose name means 'solidarity' in Malagasy – an association of more than 100 women based in the village of Soatanana. For generations mothers have passed down to their daughters the craft of making silk shawls, called lambas. You’ll learn about the formation of the co-operative and how collaboration with NGO’s has allowed the women to share the labour across the wider community. A holistic approach to community development—economic, environmental, and medical—with traditional silk weaving as its hub. After learning more about this wonderful initiative, we’ll drive to Antsirabe. Antsirabe maintains a Malagasy touch with all the tranquillity of a small European town, thanks to the contrast of its bustling street markets and Colonial-style facades. Located in the highlands, it's a popular spa town thanks to the hot springs and thermal baths, and the colourful rickshaws known as 'pousse-pousse' are a popular form of transport. This evening, you’ll enjoy a group dinner in the gazebo within the grounds of the guest house.
Day 21 - Andasibe National Park
Today is a long travel day as we make our way to Andasibe – but once you arrive, you’ll see why this place is worth the drive. Andasibe is the most visited park in Madagascar and famous for the 11 species of lemur that call it home. Aside from lemurs, you'll find endemic birds including the long-eared owl and the rufous-headed ground roller, as well as the smallest living chameleon – brookesia minima – and countless types of reptiles, insects and frogs.
Day 22 - Andasibe National Park
Wake up with excitement as you’ll have the opportunity to discover all the unique wildlife during a guided walk through Andasibe National Park today. Then, you'll take a night walk through the forest at Mitsinjo – a privately-owned neighbouring reserve, where you'll encounter nocturnal species including endemic butterflies and lemurs. This forest was formed in 1999 by residents of the village of Andasibe in east-central Madagascar. Today, the organisation is composed of more than 50 members from the local community who focus on conservation, research and sustainable development initiatives. However, in total, the reserve positively impacts more than 400 households in the Andasibe area.
Day 23 - Antananarivo
You’ll kiss Andasibe goodbye after breakfast this morning for your final stop in Antananarivo. Once you arrive back in Antananarivo, you’ll take part in a hands-on Madagascan chocolate workshop led by a local chocolate maker. You'll learn about the ingredients used in chocolate-making, the refinement process and some of the secrets as to why malagasy chocolate is so unique and delicious. After preparing your own take-home chocolate creations (yum!), malagasy pastries will be served with a selection of local teas, coffees, and for the most courageous ones – rhum arrangés (flavored rum). This evening, why not enjoy a final dinner with your new travel companions – maybe toast to your Madagascar adventure with a local beer or two.
Day 24 - Antananarivo - Departure Day
With no activities planned for today, your adventure ends today after breakfast and you’re free to leave at any time, provided you comply with the hotel’s internal check-out policy. Departure transfers are available, just speak to your booking agent.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
12-06-202405-07-2024AUD $ 8,860-
19-06-202412-07-2024AUD $ 8,450-
03-07-202426-07-2024AUD $ 8,860-
17-07-202409-08-2024AUD $ 8,205-
24-07-202416-08-2024AUD $ 9,020-
31-07-202423-08-2024AUD $ 8,615-
07-08-202430-08-2024AUD $ 8,785-
14-08-202406-09-2024AUD $ 8,865-
21-08-202413-09-2024AUD $ 9,920-
25-08-202417-09-2024AUD $ 8,950-
01-09-202424-09-2024AUD $ 8,950-
04-09-202427-09-2024AUD $ 8,865-
11-09-202404-10-2024AUD $ 9,305-
22-09-202415-10-2024AUD $ 8,865-
25-09-202418-10-2024AUD $ 8,615-
02-10-202425-10-2024AUD $ 9,380-
09-10-202401-11-2024AUD $ 8,615-
23-10-202415-11-2024AUD $ 8,615-
30-10-202422-11-2024AUD $ 8,205-
06-11-202429-11-2024AUD $ 8,205-
11-06-202504-07-2025AUD $ 8,165-
18-06-202511-07-2025AUD $ 8,165-
25-06-202518-07-2025AUD $ 8,165-
02-07-202525-07-2025AUD $ 8,165-
09-07-202501-08-2025AUD $ 8,165-
16-07-202508-08-2025AUD $ 8,165-
23-07-202515-08-2025AUD $ 8,165-
06-08-202529-08-2025AUD $ 8,165-
13-08-202505-09-2025AUD $ 8,165-
20-08-202512-09-2025AUD $ 8,165-
27-08-202519-09-2025AUD $ 8,165-
03-09-202526-09-2025AUD $ 8,165-
10-09-202503-10-2025AUD $ 8,165-
14-09-202507-10-2025AUD $ 8,165-
17-09-202510-10-2025AUD $ 8,165-
24-09-202517-10-2025AUD $ 8,165-
01-10-202524-10-2025AUD $ 8,165-
08-10-202531-10-2025AUD $ 8,165-
15-10-202507-11-2025AUD $ 8,165-
22-10-202514-11-2025AUD $ 8,165-
29-10-202521-11-2025AUD $ 8,165-
05-11-202528-11-2025AUD $ 8,165-
09-11-202502-12-2025AUD $ 8,165-

Accommodation

Hotel (14 nights),Camping (2 nights),Bungalow (4 Nights) Cottage (2 Nights) Gite (1 Night)

Transport

Private Vehicles,Boat,Plane,Ferry

Map